As the days get shorter and the weather gets cold, shoppers are less likely to venture outside to make purchases from brick-and-mortar stores. But that doesn’t mean community businesses have to admit defeat in their battle for market share against online-only retailers. A number of on-demand fulfillment platforms are providing holiday shoppers with tools to make purchases from local retailers without leaving home, giving small businesses a fighting chance during the most important shopping season of the year.
The latest crop of on-demand fulfillment platforms go a step beyond same-day delivery services, actually fulfilling customer requests by locating products, purchasing those items, and then quickly bringing them to the customer’s doorstep. Here are five examples of on-demand fulfillment tools that consumers — and retailers, in many cases — can utilize during the holiday shopping season.
1. WunWun: Hook up with helpers on-demand.
WunWun stands for “what you need, when you need [it].” Users who select the “Pick for me” feature on WunWun’s mobile app can tell the service what they want (a toaster, for example) and let “helpers” handle the rest. A helper will select a store, find the product, and ask for confirmation from the customer before completing the purchase and making an immediate delivery. Businesses that partner with WunWun can offer on-demand delivery without investing in infrastructure or logistics. The company currently offers free deliveries in Manhattan with a minimum purchase of $10.
2. TaskRabbit: Outsource your holiday shopping.
TaskRabbit is known as a service for outsourcing basic errands — and there may not be any errand more tedious and time consuming than holiday shopping. Create a list with everything you need to buy, including as much or as little detail as you like, and a TaskRabbit “runner” will fulfill your list for a pre-negotiated price. Businesses can also hire TaskRabbit to make deliveries, offering an easy way for local retailers to provide their own delivery services to customers. TaskRabbit charges a service fee of 20% of each accepted bid.
3. Nearbors: A crowd-based delivery solution.
Still in beta, Nearbors is a crowd-based delivery platform that’s focused on helping people purchase local goods online. Vetted couriers receive real-time alerts when user create shopping list in the Nearbors app. A courier who happens to be close to a shopper when the alert goes out out can “accept” the order and pick up the goods from a nearby store. Payments for the goods are made through a generated code on the Nearbors app, allowing couriers to charge their purchases directly to a shopper’s account. SMBs that partner with Nearbors can upload products and deals, and offer their customers a way to receive purchases with same-day delivery.
4. Postmates: Track the real-time status of your deliveries.
Postmates is a one-hour courier service that customers in Seattle, New York and San Francisco can use to track deliveries from their smartphones. Shoppers can post their requests for specific items (like chocolate candy or bath towels, for example) using Postmates’ Get It Now service, and they can track the progress of their courier as he or she picks the item up and delivers it — all in one-hour or less. Postmates uses dynamic pricing, which it calls “Blitz Pricing,” as a way to regulate demand. Deliveries cap out at $12.
5. Google Shopping Express: Get free delivery from local stores.
Launched to beta testers earlier this year, Google Shopping Express lets shoppers purchase products from local retailers without leaving home. Shoppers in the Bay Area can search for items from retailers in their communities by store or by category. Once they’ve selected the item, they can choose a timeframe for delivery on the same day. Google Shopping Express differentiates itself from competing platforms by offering six months of free delivery with a trial membership. Non-members pay $4.99 per store order.
Know of other on-demand order fulfillment platforms? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.